“Astghik” MC is the successor of “Malatia” hospital. In spite of its reverent half-century age, it presents itself in a new way and tries to move with the times.
-“Malatia” MC is 50 years old and now it has a new name – “Astghik”. Congratulations to you and to the whole staff of the MC! Is a half-century much or little time for a medical institution?
Yes, our center was established in 1965. If we compare the Soviet Union clinics or those in our country, within the volume and history of independent Armenia, our achievements are quite large. And if we take a look at global experience, they are not so large: in foreign countries there are clinics with a history of two or three hundred years. For us a half-century is not a short time, especially if we consider the fact that changes in medicine take place once in two or three months.
-Why should a patient choose “Astghik” MC, what is the advantage of this medical center?
-I dare to say that “Astghik” MC is the only one in the RA that is constructed in accordance with international standards, and this refers to everything: the ventilation and oxygen system, the design in operating rooms, equipment, lights, security system, the nurse call system, etc. Our advantages are numerous. Let me also note, that due to our ventilation, the air of the operating and post-operating rooms is cleaned and filtered for 100%, which in its turn leads to the exclusion of hospital infections. All this is unique in Armenia. Today “Astghik” MC has high quality services, highly qualified specialists who should work in a medical center of higher international standards. We hope that all these conditions will provide positive results for the patient’s treatment.
– Mr. Asatryan, I know that you highlight the charities that are arranged within the framework of frequent visits to the regions. Where did these events begin from and what are the upcoming programs?
-From the very first day when we obtained this center and it was in 2008, one of the chief thoughts was the idea of charity. Every year thousands of people are operated here for free, use diagnostic tests. For example, this year there have been 300 free surgeries of nasal cavity, maxillofacial system, hernia, goiter and hemorrhoid. These were planned surgeries. Besides, people periodically visit us and get medical treatment for free or discounted prices. All this is done for the people of our community, as well as the people in regions. Every year once or twice a month, our specialists perform charitable visits to Armenian regions where they implement free acceptance of patients, diagnostic examinations, even operations. We organize seminars, conferences, discussions on special cases in medical practice, exchange experience with the physicians of medical centers in the regions. Our people have numerous problems and we try to be as helpful as it is possible.
-“Astghik” MC has adopted the policy of approaching to the European health standards. To what extent is it real, what is your assessment of the RA health sector?
-The RA health sector still has a long way to develop. No matter how rudely it sounds, but a health financing system, without a motivation chain, cannot develop. Today we have a problem in health sector: doctors, nurses and all specialists who participate in health process do not earn enough, the profit of the medical centers is also not enough to develop to European standards. For this reason, they needinvestments, expenses, and the desire itself is not enough. When we obtained “Malatia” MC we knew what a huge work we were expected. We got the design of the future building from German architects and started to create a unique center which would have its exclusive role in the RA health sector.
I’m not speaking only about technical equipment, which is really a reason to be proud, as for many services we have devices which are unique not only in Armenia but also in this region. But except for equipping the center with modern devices, we also highlight the professional staff: yes, today we have a professional staff that not only regularly participate in trainings in leading clinics abroad but actively cooperate with these clinicsby arranging exchange visits, medical examinations and surgeries. But creating a powerful medical center is not enough: it is very important for the RA population to be able to use the services. Though we have made the pricelist of our center according to these criteria, however I pay great attention on the development of health insurance institution in our country. When the compulsory medical insurance operatesin RA, the citizens of Armenia are able to fully use all the needed services and are engaged in this, the medical centers will start to operate in accordance with these demands, which in its turn will promote the health sector development in the country.
-All done for the benefit of the patient. Is this your leading principle? And is the patient always right?
– It’s quite subjective. A patient is a patient and is right by the fact for visiting us. And our right is in the possibility to provide the patient with high quality services, namely, treat him/her correctly and with high quality. It is important for us to see that our patient is not dissatisfied and is discharged from our MC fully recovered. We treat the patient with great care and responsibility.
-The new buildings of “Astghik” MC are ready. What expectations do you have?
-Let me go back a little. When we got the center it was in a very bad state but had a staff of more than 400 people. Our first goal was not to lose the jobs. By centralizing all the services in a three-storey building we not only managed to keep the jobs but also expand the staff. And while the MC would be completely ready, the services of hemodialysis,which is the best in Armenia, the department of cardiology and arythmology, which is unique for a range of services, departments of ENT, urological, maxillofacial surgery, etc. started to operate. Gradually, the staff expanded with new leading specialists and now we have more than 700 employees.
When the MC was planned, the new and old buildings were designed to work together and now we expect to have 300-400 new vacancies which is very important today for our country. New buildings will become a part of a whole body with the old one and this construction will work quite well. We’ll be able to accept more patients and the service quality will be on a high level.
-A doctor’s professional mistake costs a human life but we should also take into account that a doctor is also a human being and can practically make a mistake. What do you think, has the amount of these mistakes increased or they have been always made in all times, or the information is simply more available and transparent for people today?
-In different periods of time different medical mistakes may occur: the doctor may provide a wrong diagnosis or prescribe a wrong treatment. Mistakes may occur as a result of deviation from international standards; ultimately, they are set to minimize the mistakes. Mistakes are made because of the lack of knowledge or less experience. This mistakes take place everywhere in the world and I can’t say anything about the amount. I don’t think that in our center there are rude mistakes, however we do our best not to have them and a team work plays a great role in this regard.
-Would you tell us about an impressive situation that happened during your professional experience?
-Perhaps the most impressive case was when a 40 years old man without a hand entered the reception room on his own foot. After him his hand was brought to hospital in a sack. The head of the reception had thought it was a hidden camera shooting. The case was also reflected in mass media. The hand became possible to restore after about seven hours of operation and now his hand slowly functions.
-Of course, the lack of need for health institutions in our life is desirable, but human health is the most important thing. So, may many decades follow the 50th anniversary of “Astghik” MC and may all people come out of your doors fully recovered.
I want to note that today we have created a medical center which may be a good example for the rest of medical centers in the RA. We’ll do our best to make this example more obvious and would like the other health institutions to be like us. This will provide the perfect health care system in Armenia.
Interview by Lilit Mkrtchyan